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UX and ROI: How User Experience Research, Strategy, and Design Affects Your Bottom Line

by The Creative Alliance

business woman with sticky notes on a whiteboard

In today’s competitive business environment, it’s harder than ever to set your company apart from the competition. Product and service offerings are so similar in many cases that you’ve got to find an additional way to differentiate your business.

Increasingly, that differentiator is user experience (UX). UX is the feeling a customer or prospective customer has when interacting with your business through your website, products, services, and other means. The ease (or difficulty) of those interactions plays a significant role in shaping their opinion of your company.

When people have a positive experience with your brand, your business benefits in many ways. That includes seeing more website conversions, increased customer satisfaction, and improved customer loyalty and retention. And, of course, these and other improvements increase your revenue.

Being Intentional About Improving UX Through Your UX Strategy

A positive user experience doesn’t happen by accident. To create it, you must have a UX strategy. That plan can address an individual product or service, a group of offerings, or your entire organization.

But regardless of the focus, your strategy is a carefully developed set of steps designed to improve your UX. Your vision of the improved “future state” of customer and prospect interactions determines these steps. And the plan is laid out with milestones and a deadline for completion of the entire project.

A UX strategy must also define the means for measuring improvement. Understanding the return on investment (ROI) of UX initiatives helps you determine whether and how to proceed with future UX projects. Simply “feeling like” customers and prospects are happier isn’t enough. You must be able to objectively measure your results and assess how successful a project was.

How UX Design Drove Positive Improvement for IBM

You might think a business icon like IBM doesn’t need to worry about user experience. But you don’t become a household name by ignoring what your customers want!

Big Blue uses a concept called “design thinking” to help it identify user pain points and design solutions that solve them effectively. A Forrester report says the company has these goals for design thinking:

  • Delight customers and increase profits by designing solutions that meet user needs
  • Identify and invest in the most impactful projects to reduce risk and improve outcomes
  • Slash time-to-market to dramatically reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage
  • Discover redundant or wasteful processes to streamline efficiency
  • Energize employees to be creative, collaborate, and do better work

The report includes information on a study Forrester conducted. That study found that: “IBM’s Design Thinking practice has the following three-year financial impact: $48.4 million in benefits versus costs of $12 million, resulting in a net present value (NPV) of $36.3 million and an ROI of 301%.”

There’s no guarantee that every business will experience an ROI of 301% on their UX initiatives. But that number should spark the imagination of anyone tasked with improving their company’s performance!

UX Research, Strategy, and Design Benefit Companies of All Sizes

Not every business can invest in UX research, strategy, and design to the degree that IBM does. However, there are many budget-friendly tactics that your business can employ to improve your user experience.

For example, you can assess the experience you’re providing for customers and prospects through activities like:

  • Competitive analyses
  • Customer surveys
  • Heuristic evaluations (i.e., testing to find usability problems)
  • Accessibility audits

And the great thing about starting to focus on UX is that the incremental improvements you make quickly add up. Soon, they’re providing a competitive advantage over competitors that ignore the needs of their customers and prospects.

How to Interpret UX ROI

You can measure the ROI on UX projects in several ways, including:

  • Conversion rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Development costs
  • Time to launch
  • Customer satisfaction

You can even assess ROI by looking at the key performance indicators (KPIs) that your customer service group tracks. But, as with all aspects of UX strategy, a plan is essential. You must know how to measure your UX ROI.

Developing that plan requires that you:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Document the top tasks users want to complete
  • Benchmark the user experience as it stands today
  • Note your company’s overall KPIs
  • Identify relevant UX metrics
  • Map your UX metrics to your KPIs
  • Determine how design changes can improve those metrics
  • Compute an ROI
  • Conduct regular UX audits
  • Assess the results and take any appropriate actions

That may sound like a great deal of work, especially if you’ve never launched a UX initiative before. However, after you understand the steps and have completed them once, future initiatives are easy to develop and execute.

Getting UX Experts Involved Early

Companies today have a better understanding of how user experience affects business performance. As a result, they’re making an important shift: They’re giving UX experts a “seat at the table” as they start key projects rather than asking for feedback later.

That approach benefits companies in several ways, including that it:

  • Prevents false starts and reduces the need for downstream “course corrections”
  • Saves time and reduces development costs
  • Empowers stakeholders to move forward with confidence that the project will achieve its goals
  • Reduces end-user frustration and disappointment
  • Enhances the company’s reputation for delivering professional, polished products and services
  • Creates new business opportunities

Of course, to achieve those benefits, you must work with experienced UX research, strategy, and design experts.

Anyone can recommend changes to your website, products, or services that they believe will improve the user experience. But there’s a big difference between believing and knowing from experience what will work and how to confirm, objectively, that a solution is working.

At The Creative Alliance, our award-winning UX experts have decades of collective experience getting to the heart of UX problems, crafting effective solutions, and implementing the changes. And we have a track record for doing so efficiently and cost-effectively.

Because not only do you need to offer the best possible user experience, but you’ve also got to get from project kickoff to UX “go-live” without unnecessary and costly delays.

Learn how we help companies do exactly that. Contact The Creative Alliance today!